Before I jump into my story about Stacey Fontaine-Skelly, I must give you a little background on where our journey of Stranger to Friend initially began…

I had noticed that a beautiful couple (who I’d later learn to be Stacey & Mark) moved into the apartment unit below mine. Naturally, I was intrigued by clues I’d discovered: his Irish accent, her dark skin, their youthful spirit, the Florida license plate, the wedding rings, the puppy… but most importantly, I was drawn to their smiles.  Which is why now it baffles us that it took so long for us to become friends, but once again, timing is everything!

Having fun with Stacey and Mark at the Hillcrest Farmers Market this morning!

Later in the week, my landlord informed me that the couple I was curious about below had actually decided to move to a bigger apartment a few streets away by the end of the month. This meant 2 things: 1) if our friendship was to evolve to more than smiles and friendly hellos I had to act fast… and 2) I had the chance to hand pick my next neighbor. (I do love seeing the glass half full)

Our first night as friends, New Years Eve 2010

As luck, or rather, opportunity, should have it, I happen to meet another gal merely days before, Lyndsie Boarman, who seemed like the perfect “new neighbor” type. Lyndsie moved from Denver, hardly knew  a soul…and was currently renting an apartment in the ‘burbs she found on Craigslist. A mutual friend connected us in hopes I could show her more of San Diego.  After a few calls, Lyndsie and I met, for the very first time, at my house at 8:30 PM Dec. 31, 2009 and we literally rang in the New Year as New Friends. That was a first for me, too! On Jan. 2nd,  Lyndsie came over to check out the apartment.  Naturally, I went down to the apartment with her – which is how Stacey and I FINALLY had the chance to chat.  Within a few minutes of meeting, I ran back upstairs, grabbed a Strangers to Friends card and Stacey and I giddily began our journey. Within the next 3 weeks, Stacey and Mark moved to North Park and Lydnsie moved in. In’t it funny that sometimes it take a friend MOVING to actually bring you closer together? Well, that’s exactly what happened with us.

Stacey and I exchanged text messages over the next few months, desperately trying to coordinate schedules but it never seemed to work: until last week!  She invited me to come over to check out their new place for an inexpensive yet intimate night of  Trader Joe’s Vino and Domino’s Pizza (the perfect combo!) On my way over, I had this feeling as if I was going to hang with a friend I had known for a while, only in reality, this was completely new for us. But it felt familiar. For the first time, we sat and talked, as girls, for hours. We talked about our back grounds, our passion for theater, our slacking in the kitchen abilities, our love for live music, became Facebook friends and made plans for a future Yoga Date. I then gave her my latest and greatest Strangers To Friends card with this web address on the front. We hugged good bye and thanked each other for the wonderful night. I knew then and there, Stacey was a true friend. I could feel it in my soul.

Fast forward to this morning, months later.  I woke up at Tina’s place in Ocean Beach, unable to sleep while the airplanes roared over head so, without thinking too much, I decided to check my email on my iphone.  In an instant, what started off as a morning I wanted to be anything but awake, turned into a morning I couldn’t wait for Tina to stir so I could share with her what I had received. Below is the email I got from Stacey which moved me so much, I felt the need to share with all of you. Her decision to be open with me was the inspiration I needed to write my next story. You never know, your new friend could really be the girl next door… 🙂

To the fascinating Carlyn:

I have no idea why it took me so long to read your blog, but, as you wrote yourself, everything happens for a reason; even the timing of things. Well, I couldn’t have read that blog at a more perfect time.

I have been loving San Diego so far. To me, it is Pleasantville and, although my mom would kill me if she heard me say this…I don’t see myself moving back to Florida annnnytime soon. I also love spending time with Mark. He really is my best friend and I’m never bored when I’m with him. All that said, I am the type of person that has this deep (and, I think, natural) need for friendships outside of ONLY a significant other.

I have the most amazing best friends back home who I speak with everyday, but they all live across the country and none of us have the means to see one another as often as we’d like. At times, it feels awful not having a girlfriend around to just talk girl nonsense or girl seriousness with. I miss it.

So that brings me back to the fact that this was the perfect time to read your blog.

I am at this transitional point in my life where I’m slowly learning more and more about myself.  I feel like things are slowly coming together in the most wonderful of ways. I love life, and I think I’m a positive person. I married the perfect man for me, we moved out here, I’m beginning to pursue a dream I’d been afraid to pursue before, I looooove where I live-literally..I love the city, I love the neighborhood, I love the apt. I love my job bc it’s not just a fun environment, but it affords me the time to pursue acting on the side. And I’ve been reading really uplifting fantastic books that keep the positivity train moving (just finished The Alchemist…man, amazing) But this last thing that is ever so important…new friendships, I feel as though I am failing. Completely and utterly failing. I have met many people this past year and have become very close to one, Sade, who is such an incredible and fun person, but your blog struck such a chord with my heart.

Making new friends was easier when I was younger. I possessed this strange confidence and didn’t over analyze so much. I just enjoyed meeting new people and developing lasting relationships with them. In a simple way. Now, I feel like when I meet new people, I have such trouble opening myself up like you do! I could never have just struck up a convo with the woman in the airport like you did, unless she spoke to me first. Or even meeting up with your old friend- I probably would have thought to myself “wow, it’s been so long, what will I even talk to her about…maybe I shouldn’t meet up with her”. And when I’m in planes, I hurriedly put my headphones on so I DON’T have to talk to people…and what’s crazy is, is that THAT is not me! I love people, I love hearing people’s stories, I love knowing others adventures, hopes, dreams, lives…when did I become like this? Why do I keep calling myself shy and introverted if I’m really not? I love vibrancy and crowds and excitement and people!

Your blog made me yearn for a new way of thinking. I want to be open and available for new people and new experiences. I want to force myself to make strangers into friends, so that soon after, it won’t be forced, it’ll just be so embedded into who I am and what I do. I think I read it at a perfect time bc I feel as though right now, I am ready in my mind and heart in a way that I wasn’t before.

Anyway, I just want to say I am so happy to have met you. I’m kinda mad at myself for not taking advantage of our friendship when I lived on campus ave. I think that had a little to do, also, with the fact that Mark and i just got married and were getting to know each other all over again all alone in this new city… but again, everything has its time.

So here is to new life philosophies, new adventures, and new friendships. Thank you Carlyn the Fascinating! 🙂 “

THANK YOU, STACEY!!!! Your email INSPIRED me to write again. As you said, it’s Cynical Goodness… and I love you for it.

But even more so, THANK YOU LYNDSIE– because if it were not for you and our insanely instant bond, I would never have been led to Stacey. Ain’t Karma, GREAT!!! XOXO

***This email brought tears to my eyes. My mission is working. I want to open the hearts and the minds of people I meet and Stacey confirmed with me that I have done just that. This is just the beginning 🙂 ***

Won’t you meet your neighbor, too?